As problems arise, Angela Miller of the Ozarks Technical Community College has an enviable one.
Miller, chair of the teacher education program at CTO, has seen an increase in enrollment in the revamped and expanded “Orientation to the Teaching Profession” course she developed.
This fall, more than 315 students signed up for the course — more than she or anyone else expected. Other sections had to be added.
Miller said the high interest in the course is “significant” and a good sign. “We are now in a shortage of teachers,” she said.
His intention with the course is to provide a realistic view of what teachers will face in the classroom. “It honestly delves into a teacher’s choices and the act of teaching and learning – much more than a (typical) orientation course.”
The new version of the introductory course, now a full semester and worth three credits, is an added incentive for students.
The course incorporates state-required training to become a substitute teacher, a move that will allow students to be paid to gain classroom experience while still in college.
The college hopes students will take advantage of this option, which will give them earlier experience in the classroom and help alleviate the chronic shortage of substitute teachers.
Samantha Lammers, a 2020 graduate of Nixa High School, enrolled in the class this fall. She hopes to complete her GED courses at OTC and then transfer to Missouri State University.
She wants to teach in middle school or high school.
“My goal with this class is to try to get the basic strategies and stuff like that to apply in the future whenever I go to teach in a public school,” said Lammers, who is currently working in a daycare.
Lammers said she wanted to work as a substitute teacher while in college.
“It’s a great opportunity for students like me to take the course because it gives you that teaching experience,” she said. “It’s like a double learning opportunity in the job market and in school.”
Lammers said she registered late and was on the waitlist for the class this fall. She was able to participate when other sections of the course were offered.
OTC student Jonathan Louderback, a 2021 graduate of Glendale High School, said he wanted to teach high school.
“What interests me so much about this class, in particular, is the possibility of getting substitute teaching earlier,” he said.
Students who complete the alternate education component through OTC will still need to go through the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to complete paperwork and pass an extensive background check.
Louderback said he wants to work as a substitute teacher this school year. “I’m looking to get into class as soon as possible.”
He said while no student can know “exactly what it’s like to be in their profession” until they’re there, it will offer the closest approximation.
“There is no lesson planning. There are no meetings,” he said of the replacement. “But it’s going to give everyone in that class who decides to substitute (a chance) to see what the kids look like.”
He added: “It’s going to empower people who need to teach what they want to teach and it’s going to turn people away who might not want to, in the end.”
Louderback said he learned a lot from his mother, who teaches Wilder Elementary in Springfield, but signed up for the class which he described as a “sneak peek” into his career in education.
“It’s very difficult to get a perspective on a potential career in college,” he said. “By going there, I hope to decide for myself if that’s what I really want. And I’m happy to have the opportunity to do that.”
The course will expose students to many real life scenarios encountered by teachers. Miller said the examples are meant to be thought-provoking and thought-provoking.
“The case studies were drawn from my own experiences as a former high school teacher. I thought about all the things I did wrong and wished I could have done them again, then I developed this into case studies for students to think about the gray nature of teaching,” Miller said, adding that she hopes the approach will spark conversation in the classroom.
“Trainings are often black and white, that’s right and that’s wrong…and that’s not how the classroom works.”
Miller added: “Most of the dilemmas you face, there’s no clear approach to dealing with them, whether it’s a classroom management issue or even a curriculum or a pedagogical question.
Additionally, OTC students taking the course will learn the degree and certification requirements for licensing in Missouri.
The earlier version of the introductory course required students to meet certain ACT and GPA levels.
OTC removed those barriers for the revamped course, fearing it would prevent students who skipped the college prep exam or didn’t meet GPA expectations in courses they took. could follow in high school or earlier in life.
Students wishing to pursue a degree in teaching will still need to have a 3.0 GPA or higher in the subject they will be teaching.
“We felt there was a disconnect between what students might be capable of and what they needed to do to get into that class,” Miller said.
Claudette Riley is the News-Leader’s educational reporter. Email news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.